Fleet of Angels
In the News
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“We save horses,” Faith Flores of California wrote Elaine Nash. Flores supports the horses and free community programs with income from paid programs that were shutdown. With no other income, she had just a week before 14 horses ran out of hay.
Every morning, Elaine Nash awakes in her home overlooking Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre and begins the never-ending search for another $100,000 to feed thousands upon thousands of horses whose owners lost jobs and businesses in the coronavirus pandemic.
The desperation cries out in the nearly 300 applications for more than 5,100 horses that have poured in since mid-March to Fleet of Angels, the nonprofit Nash founded to help equines in crisis.
A Minnesota woman with 7 horses and 6 mini horses lost her job after COVID-19 closed the movie theater where she worked. A waitress for a Waffle House in Florida with 3 horses hadn’t had a scheduled shift since mid-March, and her unemployment application had stalled. A California family had never asked for help, but when the movie where the husband, a stunt rider, worked shut down, they asked for hay for 40 horses, 5 cows, 10 donkeys, 7 ponies, 1 buffalo calf, and 3 goats.
“We save horses,” Faith Flores of California wrote Elaine Nash. Flores supports the horses and free community programs with income from paid programs that were shutdown. With no other income, she had just a week before 14 horses ran out of hay, “Fleet of Angels is basically doing triage,” Nash said. “The last thing we want to see is people giving up horses they love because they temporarily can’t afford feed for them.”
Approved owners, commercial riding programs and equine rescues receive micro grants of $250 to $500 usually sent directly to the recipient’s feed store. Under a new program, some applicants can be matched to hay donated by people near them. So far, 42 people have donated a share of their own hay. Many recipients send heartwarming thank you notes.
“I can’t tell you how much this means to the horses!!!!! With everything going on, everyone’s health being at risk, feed hoarding, I am so worried about the horses losing funding and being forced to make impossible decisions. This is an unbelievable relief! I can never thank you enough for setting this up and the wonderful people that donated to help us give these deserving horses the love and care they need! I am overwhelmed with appreciation and gratitude!”
“I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for the help that you have given me to get hay for my horses and mules. Due to Covid 19 our business has come to a complete stand still leaving us with no income. Thank you to all of the donors and organizations that have made this possible to help people like myself to feed our equine animals during a terrible time like this that our whole world is going through. Our animals mean the world to us and I was at a complete loss as to how I was going to be able to continue to care for them”
Horses have always been central to Nash’s life. As a little girl on a New Mexico ranch, she galloped standing up on a white plow horse so tall she had to get on from the top of a fence. In college, she was a rodeo queen. After two decades as a music publicist and celebrity manager in Nashville, she moved to Colorado with her son and daughter. “I’ve had an amazing life with horses. They are my calling now. What I do, I do for horses.”
In 2009, while living near Broadway in Manhattan when her son attended acting school, Nash decided to start Fleet of Angels to provide low-cost or no-cost transport of at-risk equines from abuse, slaughter auctions and floods and fires. She saw many people wanting to rescue horses, but unable to afford expensive retail transportation. Now Fleet of Angels has a network of hundreds of drivers willing to ship equines at discounted prices.
In October 2016, a call from a South Dakota state attorney led Nash and the Fleet of Angels network to take ownership of 907 starving and neglected wild mustangs seized from a failing sanctuary. Donors contributed more than $600,000 for feed and care of the massive herd, and by May 2018, all that were saved were healthy and adopted out in groups of two or more in what is now famously known as the record-setting Hallelujah Horses mission. A group of 60 Gila horses are now at Clint Eastwood’s spacious California ranch.
The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA are also seeing the deepening crisis. The HSUS and its Homes for Horses Coalition gave approximately$178,000 to approximately 45 member rescues in need. Soon more asked for help. “We have 60 or so equine rescues who have requested assistance that we will try to assist if, or when we have more funds available,” Cheryl Jacobson, deputy director of equine protection at HSUS, said. “We expect that the need for help will remain high for the foreseeable future.”
Unfortunately, the requests for feed and hay far surpass what funds Fleet of Angels has been able to raise, including a HSUS and ASPCA joint grant, support from the Best Friends Animal Society, and individual donors. Helping every horse would take at least another $100,000.
“We’re starting to really feel the deepening worry that so many rescues and horse owners are experiencing now,” Nash said. “At first, everyone was essentially in shock over the COVID situation and were hoping to ride out the storm while watching to see how it would all unfold. Now that predictions like ‘2021’ and ‘no sooner than this winter’ and even ‘never’ are being volleyed about as when things will be anything close to ‘normal’ or even ‘the new normal’, many horse rescues are now wondering how they will sustain their operations beyond a few months- and in some cases weeks.
“Their dilemma may become comparable to trying to learn to swim after the ship has started to sink. Our job is to provide lifeboats, but without patrons or sponsors who understand the seriousness of this situation, we’ll be unable to help further, all too soon.”
Hopefully, when the pandemic ends and all the horses are fed, Nash will write as she did after all the Hallelujah horses went home: “It is the hope of those who dedicated a tremendous amount of time, energy, heart, and money to this effort for almost two years that The Hallelujah Horses mission saved not only the horses that were personally served by the effort, but will also serve to inspire and motivate others to tackle what others call ‘impossible’, let no one stand in the way, and never give up until that ‘impossible’ goal is accomplished- for good.”